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Forensic Psychology – Important Practices and Research

2. Causes of Crime

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About this Lecture


In this module, we consider the causes of offending behaviour. We begin by thinking about how different theories of what causes crime form a spectrum that reaches from biological explanations (e.g. Lombroso’s theory of atavistic form) to social explanations (e.g. subcultural theory). We then explore different perspectives on offending behaviour in more detail, focusing in particular on biological, psychological and cognitive explanations of crime.


In this course, Professor David Canter (University of Liverpool) provides an introduction to the field of forensic psychology and some of the most important practices and areas of research associated with it.

We begin, in module one, with a definition of forensic psychology as a discipline that applies psychological insights to legal processes and the criminal justice system. In module two, we consider the different ways in which psychologists have theorised the causes of crime before moving on, in module three, to a discussion of how crime can be defined and measured. Next, we think about offender profiling and how this practice gradually developed into the broader area of investigative psychology. In module six, we take a closer look at the field of investigative psychology and how it can contribute to police investigations. We then focus on two specific aspects of investigative psychology in modules seven and eight: geographical offender profiling and investigative interviewing. Finally, in module nine, we explore a specific method for modelling serial murder, known as the ‘radex model’ of serial killers.

To find out more about forensic psychology and David Canter’s work visit


Although internationally known for introducing scientific psychology into ‘offender profiling’ and developing the field of Investigative Psychology beyond those origins, Prof. David Canter has a wide range of interests including his continuing work in Environmental Psychology.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Canter, D. (2019, September 27). Forensic Psychology – Important Practices and Research - Causes of Crime [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Canter, D. "Forensic Psychology – Important Practices and Research – Causes of Crime." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Sep 2019,

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